... Perhaps not "see" so much as "experience."
Deadly Premonition revolves around FBI Agent Francis York Morgan, who has been called in to help solve a case involving the murder of a teenage girl found nearly naked and hanging from a tree by her arms. Oh, and she's split open from stem to sternum. And the first people to find the body were two six-year old boys. Enter our hero!
-Most of the background graphics are horribly outdated. The first thing I noticed when the cutscenes started in a forest was that the trees all had flat branches, like something from an N64 game. Unsurprisingly, when I caved in and looked at the negative reviews this was what reviewers penalized the game for more than anything. Remember, kids. It doesn't matter if your game plays well or tells a good story, it just has to look pretty.
-Handgun ammo is unlimited and most enemies can be killed in four or five shots to the head. While the enemies are creepy, they tend to be slow and the left trigger's lock-on makes them easy to hit.
-The enemies can become a bit repetitive, though I'm not expecting El Gigante or the executioner to jump into the story for some bullshit reason
-York will only keep his weapon drawn for about six or seven seconds. If he doesn't use it or at least aim with it in that time, he puts it away automatically. This can lead to tapping the aim trigger every five steps just to make sure he doesn't put it away as an enemy spots him.
-There is strafing, but there is no circle-strafing.
-York can only back up in a straight line. Trying to turn while backing up does nothing.
-The framerate on the enemies, just the enemies, drops when they're at a certain distance. Actually, just saying it drops is an understatement.
-Aiming is a bit stiff. It's as though York's arms build momentum as the control stick is moved in one direction and when released they suddenly stop.
-Sometimes the music seems out of place, particularly the more jazzy tracks going on in the middle of a murder investigation.
-York has a ridiculously goofy running animation. This becomes way more apparent later on when going up and down stairwells.
-Most enemies look a lot like the Joker from "The Dark Knight."
Still, there are little things about the gameplay to like. York can sidestep while aiming his weapon (take THAT, Resident Evil 5!). Switching weapons in real time is easy to do by tapping up and down on the D-pad, with the guns and melee weapons each grouped together to avoid one getting mixed with the other. There's a toolbox extra items and weapons can go to, and both can be sent there the moment they're found. Enemies not only need headshots to efficiently kill quickly, but move in to attack York in different ways. Some walk forward with their arms blocking their face, some walk backwards, some turn around, bend back until they're a foot-and-a-half from the ground, and "limbo" their way forward, and some prefer not to move as much because they have guns. Lock-on only targets the head when enemies do the "limbo" style attack, so the player can't just abuse the lock-on all the time. By the way, you will want to get headshots because both killing enemies and scoring headshots earns an extra money bonus at the end of each chapter, on top of York's unpaid wages for doing his job. This money can go to buying guns, food, medicine, coffee and what have you. Said money can also be lost for doing such unprofessional things as wrecking cars and vandalizing the town. Money bonuses are everywhere, so don't get too down about getting penalized once or twice.
That and you'll get jumped later on by two or three enemies at a time and need to be efficient about killing or avoiding them. There's more to this game than a lot of people (and reviewers) are willing to give it credit for.
Speaking of which, here are some things you may not know about Deadly Premonition if you've only heard passing opinions on it.
1. There are driving parts.
And I might as well mention it now. The map system sucks. There's an overworld map in the menu which, instead of always facing one direction, constantly switches direction so that York is facing north. This caused me to get very lost early on, and I would have noticed it sooner except that the map can't zoom out very far at all. It also doesn't mark key places like the police station, diners, bars, or the gun shop, but on the in-game "radar" these places show up as marked when York is near them. At times I found simply trying to find and drive to someone's house in the woods or remembering where the inn or the hospital were to be some of the most frustrating parts of the game.
2. There are chase scenes.
What happens here is the screen splits between one large shot of York and a smaller shot of whoever or whatever is chasing him while button cues appear to run, evade, open doors, or push objects. There are also times when York needs to hide and hold his breath (that's how some enemies see people). Running happens the most, and since running tends to be shaking the control stick left and right these can become exhausting.
But that's the idea. You're being chased by a serial killer!
3. There are quizzes.
Here is where I argue that this game is a survivor-horror title with the elements of a murder mystery adventure game, like In the 1st Degree and other similar games from that era. Naming that game just made me realize how old I am. Goddamn.
At a few points in the game York has to type up a report on a Typewriter-brand typewriter (no joke). As this goes on he recounts all the details and events of the investigation to that point. This typically happens at the end of an "Episode" which is divided into anywhere from one to seven chapters. The last couple episodes are the shortest while the first few are the longest, and there are seven episodes in all.
Anyway, while he goes over these events he will randomly ask Zach about certain details, to which the player must select the right answer from three different choices. I would say what happens when a question is answered wrong, except I've never had that problem. Even though the first episode took me a little more than a week and a half to finish, I still got all the questions right. Basically if you pay even a shred of attention to what's going on, you'll ace the quizzes.
By the way, it took me about eight hours of play to finish the first episode. I've played this game more on the first playthrough than I did going through the Resident Evil remake four times, and I've rarely felt like the game was dragging on.
4. There are side quests.
At several points in Deadly Premonition York needs to go somewhere or meet someone at a certain time of day. This leaves sizable gaps of time, amplified by the fact that one minute in-game is somewhere between twenty and thirty seconds real-time. Sure, you COULD just have York go to sleep until it's time to go wherever he needs to-
Oh, right. There's a rest bar and a hunger bar that indicate how tired or hungry York is, and letting York get too tired reduces his ability to run or hide as long as he could. Keeping these up isn't particularly difficult as there are plenty of beds, plenty of places selling food, plenty of places to find food (though I'm suspicious of the turkey sandwich and smoked salmon I found in the abandoned lumber mill), and certain foods and drinks that raise the rest bar, hunger bar, or both.